In the fast-paced world we live in, the holiday season gives us a good reason to slow down, relax, re-charge, and most importantly, connect with our family. When each parent is working full time, kids are being carted off to soccer, gymnastics, music class, dance, etc. It barely seems like enough time to kiss the little ones goodnight, and then start again the next day. Here are some of the ways I remember from my childhood to still bring me to my most cherished memories. We didn’t have much, but each memory has its very own place in my heart. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know that we didn’t have much until I became an adult with kids of my own.
- Make cookies. Even the busiest family should make some holiday cookies. Homemade is best, but the tube from the store is perfect if it brings you together. My mom preferred the recipe straight from the back of the chocolate chip bag. She wasn’t the best cook, but I had no idea. Try these!
- Send REAL holiday cards. In this time, we send messages on social media or texts, but when I was a child, my mom helped me to sign each card and get it in the mail. We went to Kmart, which was the only store in town, and she let me pick the box of cards! I loved having that choice as a child. The best part was opening the mail and getting cards in return. Each year, I wanted to see if our collection would get bigger and bigger. Did I even know half of the people we were sending cards to or getting cards from? NO, but it didn’t matter. Each card deepened our spirit for the holidays.
- Hop in the car and go look at Christmas lights! Simple, practically free (minus the gas) and one of the best gifts a family can give to one another. Driving through the city, up and down the streets, everyone gazing at the beauty of Christmas, smiling, hardly any words, but a time that a family is truly connecting without even knowing it. How could anyone be unhappy looking at the lights? One of the top picks from me J
- Listen to music. Oh, the holiday music! Looking back, there is nothing more powerful than Christmas music. My mom would put on old records with singers whom I didn’t even know the name. But after listening to these year after year, they became familiar holiday tunes. We baked to these sounds, decorated the house and tree to these sounds, wrapped presents to these sounds, and just smiled every time we looked at each other. Music really can heal the soul. My mother recently passed, and only now am I realizing why Christmas music holds so much meaning to me. A personal favorite- “White Christmas” by the one and only Bing Crosby.
- Decorate that tree and make it memorable! I’m not sure how you do it, but in my family, each Christmas the entire family got a new ornament from Santa. This is special because then you are adding to your collection each year. It is so much fun to look at each one and remember which year it was from, or what was special that year, etc. Save them; these are the ones you will eventually pass down to your children, and from someone who knows, they hold deep, deep meaning. Those simple little trinkets that hang from the tree can truly bring so much joy year after year, and most likely even when you are gone…
My favorite thing that was taught to me by my beloved mom, was that nothing needs to be or ever will be perfect. Even if you have an idea of what you want to happen or how people will react to your holiday traditions, it may not always go that way. What?! It’s okay if you burn the turkey; make sandwiches. If you run out of ideas for the family on the big day, go outside and play in the snow. If your tree dies because you didn’t water it, use it for firewood. My point is, the most important person in my life, my mother, never did anything perfect, yet each and every Christmas was truly perfect for me. So slow down, enjoy your family, big or small, and take it all in. One day the children will be grown, and the traditions will not go away. They will just change and evolve as the family grows. The holidays are truly magical and can do wonders for those busy, hectic days that we get used to. Life is life, but there is no reason not to smile, and either create “perfect” memories for your child or remember the “perfect” memories that were uniquely your own….because to you, either way it is truly perfection.